Search

West Cleveland Baptist Church

"Followers of Christ leading others to know and follow Christ."

Sticky Note Confessions

This past Sunday was a beautiful outpouring of God’s grace on those who confessed their sins and shortcomings. We looked at being truly satisfied in Him.

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”

– John Piper

A pastor friend of mine had talked about doing “sticky note confessions” at his church, and I began to think of how meaningful it might be to write out a sin or a struggle and physically stick it to the altar.  So I challenged the congregation of West Cleveland Baptist Church at the end of the sermon to fill in the following blank:

“If it weren’t for _____________________, I think I could be fully satisfied in the Lord.”

Whatever is on that line belongs on a sticky note, and that sticky note needs to be left at the feet of Jesus. He died so that you could truly live – not barely get by. I was blessed and encouraged to see the neat little area of post-it pads turned into a mess by the several that came forward to leave something at the altar that day!

If you are out there reading this and you have something that is stopping you from being satisfied in Jesus Christ, I’m praying for you as I write this. I want you to hit play on the video below, and as the song plays, hear the word of the Lord. Tear down those idols of the heart and learn to trust Him more! He is faithful! This might be the most meaningful way to spend 5 minutes in your whole day!

 

Trust Without Borders

I have had the pleasure of practicing the song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong on guitar lately. Cinnamon Warnock intends to sing it at church in the future, so I am learning to play it to help her. As I sat in my living room practicing it tonight, I found myself really thinking through the words of the bridge as I sang. It says:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders; Let me walk upon the waters, Wherever You would call me; Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander; And my faith will be made stronger, In the presence of my Savior.”

The line that kept resonating in my heart was “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.” God is in the business of calling His children to walk in ways that they never thought possible. He has worked in the lives of many faithful believers through the centuries so that His glory would be revealed to those trapped in darkness. He is the Light of the world, and makes us lights in the world when we call Him Lord.

We have an awesome opportunity to live for his glory, but all too often, we put borders and boundaries on how far we are willing to go. Would you join with me in asking the Lord to guide our steps and direct our paths… to lead us in a way where we have no limits to what we will do for Him?

Father God – we thank you for your guidance and direction. We thank you for Jesus Christ and His ultimate, life-giving sacrifice. We pray that your glory would be revealed in our individual lives as well as the church. In those areas where we have stopped short or decided not to follow with complete trust – we repent of our unbelief. Lord, help us to overcome our unbelief! Holy Spirit, lead us to places where we have no borders on our trust in you! In Jesus’ name – Amen!

Multiplying Disciples

This past year, we have had a precious few members from West Cleveland Baptist Church that have taken the challenge to pursue discipleship as guinea pigs.

You see, I went to a conference that challenged me to “make disciples that make disciples.” I was on board with that concept from the very beginning, but the million dollar question still remained – “How?” I had read books, talked to other pastors, prayed, and even experimented with some of the best advice that was thrown out there. I had attempted T4T, 1-5-1, and had looked into TTI. I probably would be trying some other catchy 3 letter attempt at discipleship if things hadn’t come together for me at that conference.

I had come to a point where I thought my only real option left for discipleship was to write my own curriculum. That’s a recipe for feeling overwhelmed and never following through. It’s also completely unnecessary!

Rather than a curriculum, set of books, or special diet, the recipe was simple and literally would cost zero dollars and zero cents. I was challenged to gather a group of Christian men that desired to be disciples. We would commit to a process of Christian growth that would last approximately 1-year, and it would feature:

  • Reading through the Bible on a common reading plan (roughly 2 chapters a day/5 days a week)
  • Responding to our reading through daily journal entries
  • Memorizing Scripture (we used the Navigators Topical Memory System – 1 verse a week)
  • Accountability for following through on the commands of Christ
  • Prayer support
  • Reliance on the Holy Spirit

Well – at the end of a year, I can say that I’ve never been more proud in ministry than I am of these men that have walked with me through this process. I found that I needed it as much as anyone – and I’m the pastor!

As our year draws toward the end, the most exciting part of all is about to happen. Rather than addition – we intend to multiply. A group that has walked patiently through the Scriptures should be equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Our one small group of four men is praying for a multiplication into 2 groups totaling 10 men. Our ladies group will be following along with their own multiplication just a few weeks later. That may seem insignificant at first glance. But if you will watch the following video, I think you will see how effective multiplication can be in reaching the world with the gospel. I hope you walk away inspired, excited, and hungry to follow the commands of Christ (which includes the command to go make disciples).

If you desire to dig deeper in your faith and trust God for your spiritual growth, let me know as soon as possible so that we can get you plugged into a group of like-minded believers. Email me at chaplainward120@yahoo.com or call me at 423.519.4890

My Story – An Easter Musical

On Easter Sunday, April 16 at 11 am the West Cleveland Choir & Drama team will present the Easter Musical Drama, My Story.

Using a script by our own Cliff Donachy, The Storyteller narrator & several other characters – Biblical & otherwise – will share their eyewitness testimonies of what happened in the last few days of Jesus’ life & ministry including His death and resurrection.

Director, Don Nichols & the choir are excited to share the following songs in support of those accounts, all followed by a powerful Easter message by our Pastor, Matt Ward!

Invite your family and friends to join us for this special occasion!

1. Because He Lives Medley
2. My Story
3. Redeemed
4. Victor’s Crown
5. Because He Lives (Amen)

West Cleveland Baptist Loves Bradley Place Apartments

When fall arrives every year, it brings with it some familiar experiences. Football games are played, the leaves change colors (or at least they should), the temperatures begin to dip (again – it should), and holidays roll in. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming quick in 2016, it’s a time to be very thankful and grateful for how good God is to His people.

To kick off fall, our West Cleveland Baptist Church family came together in beautiful fashion to reach out and show love to our neighbors at Bradley Place Apartments. Our folks dressed up in Halloween costumes and brought fun, games and great attitudes to our neighbors. It was a great success!

While there were many people in attendance both from our church and from the apartments, we have to redefine success in ministry.  Yes – it would be easy to write a narrative specifying how many people were there and we could celebrate purely based on numbers. But in order to truly find success in ministry, we have to be in it for the long haul. Out of an event like our Fall Festival, relationships should be formed, followed up on, and nurtured in the days, weeks, and months ahead. This event was absolutely a successful start, but I am truly excited about the opportunities to show the love of Christ as we continue on our journey. Christ reminded us how important it is to love our neighbors. He went as far as saying that loving God and loving neighbors were the most important commands in Scripture. He said that everything else hangs on those 2 major commands! I am blessed and encouraged to pastor a family of believers that take those commands to heart. Let’s drive on and continue loving our neighbors!

Pastor Matt

Catching Missions

2016 marked the 2nd year that West Cleveland Baptist Church has partnered with Pillar Church of Woodlawn in Alexandria, VA. When we visit Pillar, we try to write them a blank check as far as what we are willing to do. Whatever and wherever you need us, that is what we want to do. I can’t speak first-hand about everyone’s experience, but I can share a few tidbits of mine. If you’d like to hear other perspectives, make sure to visit SERMONS ONLINE! and listen to the message from July 10.

First of all, I enjoy going to Pillar because I have a brother there. The lead pastor is Brian Collison. We don’t share a last name and we don’t look alike, but we are both covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, we both wear an Army uniform proudly, and we are both alumni from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a breath of fresh air to see and fellowship with a like-minded friend in the ministry. Praying for one another, venting to one another, and just hanging out is great for me. The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 27:17 that “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” It sharpens me to be there. You should also find brothers and sisters that can sharpen you – no matter where you are.

Secondly, I love attending Sunday morning service at Pillar. In the two years we have been there, we have taken part in 2 Sunday morning services. And yet, I have never heard a sermon there! How in the world does that happen? Both years, one of my favorite parts of the week has been taking my leave from the service in order to go back to a room dedicated to prayer. During the preaching of the word, a very small group of people go to do battle in prayer. I looked at my phone as we began this year and noted the time. We spent 65 minutes in prayer! You might think that is excessive or unnecessary, but prayer changes things. While the word is going forth from the pulpit, we were praying for the preacher and the hearers. After all, the Bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We should pray for our preachers to communicate the word of God effectively and for the hearers to be focused and attentive to what is being said.

Lastly, we did something a little different this year. We took one day to assist Waterfront Church of D.C.  The day was miserably HOT! It was in the upper-90s with a high level of humidity. We were not indoors in an air-conditioned building, we were outdoors walking around attaching door-hangers to the front doors of several neighborhoods. During that time, we had one member get stung by an unidentified insect, one member have sinus issues, and one member get a severe headache. The rest of the team was hot and a bit cranky. I fully expected to hear mumbles and grumbles from the team – but they weren’t really there. Most of our members had a major sense of accomplishment, and they were proud to have been sweating for the Lord. I was blessed to hear their positive attitudes in the midst of bad circumstances. Our trust in the Lord is never supposed to depend on circumstances. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Many in the team even mentioned this rough day as one of their most memorable!

I could go on and on telling you about every detail of the trip – but the old adage is still true – Missions is caught more than taught. I can tell you what it means to be on mission, but until you catch the fever, you will be hard-pressed to truly understand. I want to encourage each and every one of you to watch our mission video, listen to our testimonies, read this short blog, and even pepper us with whatever questions you may have… but at the end of the day, I hope that you are encouraged to step out in faith and step forward for Christ to serve on the mission field. There are several opportunities to take that first step in our own community very soon. Plug in and catch the mission fever!

God bless,

Pastor Matt

 

 

Holy, Holy, Holy

“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud crashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” – Psalm 150

It was a Thursday night. I was sitting at the church in my office with three other men as we have become accustomed to. It is a time of discipleship – intensely seeking God in His word and allowing iron to sharpen iron (Prov. 27:17). As I have recently taken up guitar with my son Noah for lessons, I have pushed myself to lead a song or two in our Thursday night meetings. Playing in front of 3 makes me nervous! We sing through Matt Maher’s “Lord, I Need You” and follow it up with the old hymn “Holy Holy Holy”. It went well enough – I didn’t miss too many chords and we worshiped together in a special way… just the 4 of us – alone in the church on a Thursday night. And then it happened…

Brother Don Nichols, our Choir Director, spoke up to say, “Hey men, we should do this together on Father’s Day Sunday.” Tony Richmond, our chairman of the deacons, and I exchanged a frightened glance. Cliff Donachy, brother in Christ and fellow minister, was stoic. Tony said, “I’m out”, and I knew in my heart I wasn’t far behind. Don challenged me to consider it, and I agreed to pray over night. If playing before 3 is tough – imagine 60 or 70!

But when it comes down to it – I can’t play for 3, or 70, or 700 for that matter. If I am really worshiping, I am only playing for an audience of 1. Sure – as I strapped on my guitar that morning, my hand still shook a little, and my nerves were all over the place, but in my heart I kept telling myself that no matter what sound my guitar made, my heart better be in the right place before a holy God!

Psalm 150 really hits the nail on the head, doesn’t it? Let everything praise the Lord! Give it all you’ve got if you are a child of God – lay it on the line – and praise Him with  your best. God will be glorified, and you will be blessed. We serve an awesome God – let’s act like it!

 

 

The Need for Sacrifice

I have recently been challenged by a memory verse. It’s a verse I have seen many times. It’s a verse I have read many times. It’s a verse I have even preached on! But when I committed it to memory, it seemed to take on a whole new importance. Romans 12:1 states,

“I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (ESV)

The more I think about that verse, the more my need for sacrifice seems to stand out in my mind. I am hard-wired toward selfishness – but Jesus has changed my wiring towards selflessness. Each day, I live in a world where I am pulled in both directions. I want to live for Christ, and yet I am still selfish far too often.

As I have been mulling over this verse, I found myself eye to eye with an older gentleman from our congregation. He was laying in a hospital bed with pneumonia, had not eaten in a week and was undergoing tests to see if he would ever be able to swallow again or have a feeding tube. His physical situation was bleak at best. After spending time with his family, I leaned over Earl McAmis to ask if there was anything in particular that he’d like for me to pray for him. What I got next blew me away!

His physical situation made it hard to understand the words that he was saying. But with great effort, he looked up at me and said, “I want to give God glory with my life. Please pray that while I am here, I can have the strength enough to do that.”

We cling to our life on earth so hard at times. Many in Earl’s situation would have had complaints and “Why me?” sorts of questions. Earl had gotten past any sort of selfish request. His lone request was more about being able to honor God in his weakened state. I was blessed by Earl’s heart that day. His witness and testimony really made Romans 12:1 come alive for me!

As you go throughout your week, you will be tempted to be selfish in many ways. I appeal to you brothers (and sisters), present your bodies as  a living sacrifice!

Pastor Matt

Brand New Site for WordPress

Hello church,

I hope that you will bear with me as I begin trying to learn a new kind of website. We are woefully behind the rest of the world as it pertains to having a website, so we are playing catch-up. Unfortunately for us, I am leading the charge, and I am having to learn all of this as I go. There is great value in putting our information out there so that others can see us and know what we are about. Please pray for my wisdom, patience, understanding, and knowledge as I continue getting us caught up.

God bless,

Pastor Matt Ward

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑